June 30: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal

June 29:

Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, "Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities: EPA No New Permits." on 1 North Congress St. in Boston, at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. The group is urging the agency to block over 150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

June 29: 3,767 Ohioans and Kentuckians write their Congressional representatives: Co-sponsor mountaintop removal ban

COLUMBUS -- "Since June 17, 3,767 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have written their representatives urging them to co-sponsor a bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining. Letters and children’s illustrations are asking U.S. House members from Ohio to co-sponsor H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act. U.S. Senators from both Ohio and Kentucky are being asked to co-sponsor S. 696, The Appalachian Restoration Act. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a radical form of surface mining which contaminates drinking water and irreparably damages the surrounding communities and environment of Central Appalachia,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

COLUMBUS -- Resource: Breakdown of key Senate and House committees, "H.R. 1310, The Clean Water Protection Act, is being reviewed by the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. S. 696, The Appalachian Restoration Act, is being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. These bills are almost identical in language. The linked resources below indicate which members of each committee are currently co-sponsors of the respective bill. These members are highlighted in green. Members highlighted in yellow are Ohio representatives on these committees who are not cosponsors,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

June 26: Lawmakers, activists battle over mountaintop removal coal mining

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is sponsoring legislation that would outlaw mountaintop removal coal mining.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Coal industry advocates and environmentalists converged on Capitol Hill on Thursday at a congressional hearing on the impact of mountaintop removal mining on Appalachian streams and rivers.... [Sen. Benjamin] Cardin and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., are sponsoring legislation that would outlaw mountaintop mining. 'The administration's decision will bring tighter scrutiny, but it is still important to pass the Cardin-Alexander legislation that would prohibit blowing off the tops of mountains and putting the waste in our streams,' said Alexander, a committee member. 'Coal is an essential part of our energy future, but it is not necessary to destroy our environment in order to have enough of it,'" Halimah Abdullah, Kansas City Star.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mountaintop removal damage 'irreversible,' U.S. Senate hears, DEP official only witness to defend practice, Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

June 25: Massey protest first-hand

Marsh Fork protest

SUNDIAL, WV -- "On June 23, the small unincorporated hamlet of Sundial, West Virginia saw one of the largest anti-mountaintop removal protests to date.  Several hundred peaceful protesters gathered at Marsh Fork Elementary - that infamous school within hundreds of yard of a coal processing plant, a 2.8 billion gallon coal slurry pond, and a several thousand acre mountaintop removal site.  Protesters came from all over the country - as evidenced by license plates from as far as New Mexico and Vermont,” Nathan Rutz, Ohio Citizen Action.

June 24: Columbus Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy co-sponsors bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining

COLUMBUS -- "Today, Columbus Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy became the 153 co-sponsor of H.R. 1310 The Clean Water Protection Act, a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. In the past year, 1,138 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends in Ohio Congressional District 15 sent hand-written letters and other message to Kilroy urging her to co-sponsor this bill. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a radical form of surface mining in Central Appalachia which removes 800 feet off the summit of a mountain. This form of mining is highly mechanized, using machinery rather than workers, and causes irreparable damage to drinking water and surrounding communities,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

June 24: Updated: Nonviolent Goldman Prize Winner attacked by Massey supporter, 94-year-old Hechler, Hannah, Hansen arrested at Coal River

COAL RIVER VALLEY, WV -- "During the rally in front of the Massey Energy coal property today, Coal River Mountain Watch co-director (and 2003 Goldman Prize Award winner) Judy Bonds was reportedly assaulted by a Massey supporter. While Bonds was engaged in a nonviolent protest, the Massey supporter lunged from the line without any provocation and roughly slapped Bonds on the head, ear and jaw. The Massey supporter also attempted an attack on another protestor, Lorelei Scarbro, a coal miner's widow and local community organizer. The Massey supporter was immedidately apprehended by the police and charged with battery, according to news reports," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

June 23: A plea to President Obama: End mountaintop coal mining

Dr. James Hansen is director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

NEW HAVEN, CT -- "The Obama administration is being forced into a political compromise. It has sacrificed a strong position on mountaintop removal in order to ensure the support of coal-state legislators for a climate bill. The political pressures are very real... The issue of mountaintop removal is so important that I and others concerned about this problem will engage in an act of civil disobedience on June 23rd at a mountaintop removal site in Coal River Valley, West Virginia," editorial, James Hansen, Yale Environment 360.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Big names expected to take on big coal, Jessica Lilly, West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

June 22: Music for the Mountains Benefit at Northside Tavern, Sunday August 2

CINCINNATI -- "Six local bands and songwriters join forces Sunday, August 2 to help stop mountaintop removal coal mining. The show starts at 5pm and features brother/sister act the Majo, folk-rock songwriter Peter Adams, Americana 'orchestra' Magnolia Mountain, bluegrass-folk trio the Tillers, rising indie-folk phenom Daniel Martin Moore and killbilly rockers Cletus Romp. Thanks are due to the Northside Tavern, Shake It Records and WNKU FM – 89.7 for sponsoring the event and to the bands for donating their time and talents. For more information or to listen to the bands involved, click here," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

June 22: Coal's costs outweigh benefits, WVU study finds

Among the costs of coal mining are the 724 miles of Appalachian streams buried by mountaintop removal operations like this one in Southern West Virginia. (Chris Dorst)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths as the industry provides to the region in jobs, taxes and other economic benefits, according to a groundbreaking new study co-authored by a West Virginia University researcher. In the latest in a series of papers, WVU researcher Michael Hendryx questions the idea that coal is good for West Virginia and other Appalachian communities, and recommends that political leaders consider other alternatives for improving the region's economy and quality of life," Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette. Published June 20.

June 22: More than stopgaps for Appalachia

NEW YORK, NY -- "The Obama administration has pledged to restore the old buffer zone restriction. But it has said nothing at all about redefining mining waste as an illegal pollutant, which it was before the Bush people came along. A bill before the House would do exactly that. The administration should do it first," editorial, New York Times. Published June 19.

June 19: Bobby Kennedy, Jr.: "Let's get arrested!"

NEW YORK, NY -- "Before Bruce Springsteen took the stage at Bonnaroo over the weekend, Bobby Kennedy, Jr. told a crowd of thousands that 'coal is a crime,' and called on festival-goers to get arrested with him (and James Hansen) on the 23rd of June at Coal River in West Virginia. Beforehand, Jacob from TreeHugger Radio and I caught up with the attorney-activist, who heads the Waterkeeper Alliance. Yesterday I posted an interview with Kennedy in which he detailed his problems with Obama's policy on mountaintop coal mining and the 'corruption' of his 'family friends.' ...A simple point of his that bears repeating: 'If coal was forced to internalize its costs, it couldn't compete against... any of the local, green abundant fuels,'" Alex Pasternack, Treehugger.

June 18: Daring dragline protest launches seven days that will shake mountaintop removal operations

The Twilight mountaintop removal site in Boone County, West Virginia.

COAL RIVER VALLEY, WV -- "Four daring protestors accomplished something today that no high ranking member in the Obama administration involved in the recent mountaintop removal mining policy decisions has ever bothered to do: These four American patriots made an actual visit to a mountaintop removal site. They also went beyond the call of duty. Scaling a towering 20-story dragline (those behemoth stripmining machines that could rip up a Manhattan block in a New York minute) and then unfolding a 15 x 150 foot banner at the Twilight mountaintop removal strip mine in Boone County, West Virginia, they also unveiled a simple message on how the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality can best enforce the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws: JUST STOP MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL," Jeff Biggers, Common Dreams.

June 16: Byrd aides studying mountaintop removal mining

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd are in southern West Virginia for what they call a three-day fact-finding tour about mountaintop removal mining. Byrd is still recovering from an illness and staph infection and is not with his staff members from the Charleston and Washington, D.C. offices. But the West Virginia Democrat issued a statement Tuesday saying his aides will see mountaintop mining operations firsthand. They will meet with coal industry officials, environmentalists and citizens. They'll also inspect flood recovery efforts and talk to people about fears that mining may have made the damage from the spring floods worse," Associated Press.

June 16: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal


June 12: Obama mining plan draws criticism from both sides

This aerial photo of a mountaintop removal mine in Southern West Virginia shows the layers of rock and earth taken down to reach coal reserves. Photo by Chris Dorst.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Obama administration officials on Thursday outlined their plans to try to reduce environmental damage from mountaintop removal, but stopped short of actions coal industry critics say are needed to curb destruction of Appalachian hills, forests and streams... But the Obama proposals did not please critics from either side. Coal industry officials said the initiative creates more uncertainty about the hoops companies must jump through to open new mines, while environmental groups objected that more concrete steps were not taken to immediately slow the destructive mining practice. 'Mountains are being blown up today. Streams are being buried today. And the administration needs to move beyond rhetoric to real action,' said Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment director Joe Lovett, one of a handful of lawyers who have been fighting mountaintop removal in court for a decade," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

June 11: Mountaintop Letdown
President Obama's decision will enrage environmentalists, but it's the right one

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "While Mr. Obama may have wanted voters to believe otherwise, he never flat-out said he would end this brand of mining. His decision reflects energy and political realities. Coal will remain an essential energy source for some time, while ending mountaintop removal mining would require action in Congress. There it would be opposed by coal-state members whose help Mr. Obama needs to get the more ambitious climate-change bill passed. Would we rather see a better way to extract coal? Certainly. But vigorous enforcement of the laws can help protect the environment until viable energy alternatives render the practice unnecessary," editorial, Washington Post.

Obviously, the Washington Post wrote this editorial at the prompting of the White House. This means the Obama Administration is concerned about the political heat they are taking on this issue. That's also the reason for the big reform announcement coming later today that they are really, really, really going to scrutinize mountaintop removal coal mining applications before they rubber-stamp them.

This is becoming a pattern. On March 24, the U.S. EPA said it would insist on reviewing such applications, and then a few weeks later, approved the overwhelming majority of them. On April 26, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar held a press conference to announce a major mountaintop removal reform. Before the press conference was over, he had admitted that it would have no effect on mountaintop removal operations. These maneuvers by the Obama Administration are fooling no one. -- Paul Ryder, Organizing Director.

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- Breaking: Obama Says Mountain Crimes Can Be Regulated--Will Gore, Carter or Congress Intervene Now?, Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

June 9: Animals in the news: Ohio Citizen Action holding a mutt wash

Emily Felker, Jessica Metcalf and Timber at the mutt wash in 2007.
CLEVELAND -- "Ohio Citizen Action is holding a mutt wash at The Mutt Hutt, 2603 Scranton Road in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, to help fund their campaign to ban mountaintop coal mining. They'll wash dogs for $10 from 9 a.m. to noon June 20. Nail trims are $5. Coal miners using dynamite have destroyed about 500 Appalachian mountaintops and polluted rivers and drinking water, the group says. Ohio Citizen Action is the state's largest environmental organization with 80,000 dues-paying members," Cleveland Plain Dealer.

June 8: Representative Helcher to President Obama: Time for Harry S. Truman moment in the coalfields

Ken Hechler with President Truman
NEW YORK, NY -- "Last month, as protesters from around the country converged in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia to protest Massey Energy's reckless mountaintop removal blasting operations within a short distance of a 7-billion gallon coal sludge impoundment, their ranks included 94-year-old former US Representative Ken Hechler... Hechler has a message for President Barack Obama: It's time for President Obama to have a Harry S. Truman moment, and issue an executive order to abolish the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia... 'It's absolutely necessary that people here today continue to demonstrate against this highly destructive practice,' he called out to the protestors," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

Visit YouTube to see the video of Rep. Helcher speaking against mountaintop removal coal mining. His address to the demonstrators starts at 6:50.

June 5: Mutt wash for the mountains

CLEVELAND -- "Ohio Citizen Action is holding a mutt-wash fundraiser at The Mutt Hutt in Tremont (2603 Scranton Rd.) to benefit their campaign to get mountaintop removal coal mining banned. The dog wash will be held on Saturday, June 20th, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The donation is $10 for a mutt wash and $5 for a nail trim. Mountaintop removal is the most radical form of coal mining where mountains are literally blown up – devastating communities throughout Appalachia, polluting drinking water and destroying rivers. Proceeds from the June 20th mutt wash will benefit Ohio Citizen Action and their campaign to get President Obama to ban this form of coal mining," press release, Ohio Citizen Action, The Mutt Hutt.

June 4: U.S. EPA Administrator Jackson hides behind police

MONFORT HEIGHTS, OH -- "After dodging questions about mountaintop removal from Ohio Citizen Action activists at an event in Columbus Wednesday morning, U.S. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson proceeded to an afternoon event at a Cincinnati area school. Upon learning that the group’s local activists were also in attendance at the second event, Ms. Jackson’s staff and school officials attempted to prevent them from addressing what they termed the 'controversial' issue at the second press conference. When the activists unfurled a banner exhibiting the handprints, names and ages of 161 Cincinnati schoolchildren and the message, 'Helping hands say – stop blowing up our mountains”, they were asked to leave school premises. The request was backed up by armed Colerain Township police," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

June 4: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal


June 3: Coal's controversy dogs EPA leader

COLUMBUS -- "Environmental groups have cheered many of the Obama-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent decisions, most of which reversed Bush-era policies and rules. In a Columbus appearance today, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson faced a protest from members of the environmental group Ohio Citizen Action over her agency's inaction on proposed coal mines, particularly those that would remove mountaintops and fill adjacent valleys and streams with toxic mine debris," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.

June 2: Don't cut down mountaintops

drawing by Hallie
Hallie from Ohio wants mountaintop removal to stop.

Paige from Ohio writes, "Save Our Mountains: This is what will happen."

June 1: Obama walks a fine line over mining
Environmentalists feel betrayed by the EPA's decision not to block new mountaintop mining projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Although environmentalists had expected the new administration to put the brakes on mountaintop removal, Rahall and other mining advocates have pointed out that Obama did not promise to end the practice and was more open to it than his Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain... Ed Hopkins, a top Sierra Club official, said some of the projects that have now obtained the EPA's blessing 'are as large and potentially destructive as the ones they objected to. It makes us wonder what standards -- if any -- the administration is using,' Hopkins said," Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times. Published May 31.

As of May 27, 16,607 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have written President Obama's U.S. EPA chief: Ban mountaintop removal now.

May 27: Coal mine laws written in blood: An interview with Judy Bonds

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Judy Bonds is the co-director for Coal River Mountain Watch in West Virginia. Bonds is a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter, has been fighting for justice in the Appalachian coalfields since 1998, and in 2003 won the Goldman Environmental Prize. In this interview with Toward Freedom, she talks about what inspired her to become an environmental activist, some recent examples of coal mining devastation, the lasting impacts of coal mining on communities, and what people around the world can do to help," Frank Joseph Smecker, Toward Freedom.

May 26: What if he has just been too busy to deal with mountaintop removal coal mining?

COLUMBUS -- "During the 2008 campaign, candidate Barack Obama said he was against mountaintop removal coal mining. Is it unfair to expect President Obama to make good on that statement, what with everything else he's doing? Let's find out.

This is what Obama would have to say: "Rahm, I want an administrative ban on mountaintop removal coal mining as fast as possible. Make it happen." Try saying that out loud with a stopwatch running. How long did it take you? 10 seconds at the most? Maybe add a few seconds for Obama to put his signature on execution documents. Then he could turn his attention to other matters. Obama's failure to issue this instruction has not been due to his lack of time. What is it due to?" Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

May 25: Seventy-five protest in Coal River Valley
At least 11 arrests on Coal River Valley as actions against mountaintop removal and coal sludge dams continue

COAL RIVER VALLEY, WV -- "More than seventy-five residents of the Coal River Valley and members of a coalition that includes Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero picketed the entrance to Massey Energy's Marfork mining complex at noon Saturday, May 23, 2009. Seven people were arrested. The actions were in protest of the company's plans to blast 100 feet away from the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment. The demonstration began with a prayer and sermon by Bob 'Sage' Russo of Christians for the Mountains. Referencing the Sermon on the Mount, he called upon citizens to be stewards of the Earth and to move towards sustainable, stable jobs. Protestors stood in front of the gates of the mine facility with signs including '7 billion spilled, 998 killed,'" Huntington News. Published May 24.

May 22: JPMorgan Chase shareholders hear moving testimony on mountaintop removal coal mining

Larry Gibson
Larry Gibson has been fighting for the survival of Kayford mountain - his family's home for 230 years.

NEW YORK, NY -- "Larry Gibson, who lives on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia, spoke powerfully at the JPMorgan Chase shareholders meeting this week about the destruction of the Appalachian mountains by Massey and other coal companies. Gibson, Dana Clark of Rainforest Action Network, and Sandy Buchanan of Ohio Citizen Action urged JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and the hundreds of other JPMorgan Chase shareholders at the meeting to cease their financing of this devastation. JPMorgan Chase has provided significant funding for Massey Energy and other mountaintop removal coal companies. Gibson’s testimony led to an offer from Dimon to meet to talk further about these issues, and a dialogue between Gibson, Clark, Buchanan, and two bank officials took place after the meeting. Sandy Buchanan, who also represented the  Sierra Club, questioned JPMorgan Chase’s role in funding proposed new coal plants, particularly the proposed AMP-Ohio plant in Meigs County, Ohio.  Dana Clark of RAN commented that JPMorgan Chase was fueling climate change as a lead financier of new coal-fired power plants, some in violation of the 'Carbon Principles' which the bank endorsed in 2008. Dimon said that the bank would not make a commitment to stop funding new coal plants, but did say that the bank is willing to take a fresh look at new information for individual plants as it becomes available. Outside the building,  members of NYPIRG, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace distributed leaflets entitled, 'JPMorgan Chase: Stop Investing in Dirty Energy' to shareholders as they entered the vast One Chase Manhattan Plaza," Ohio Citizen Action.

NEW YORK, NY -- J.P. Morgan's Meeting Is Noteworthy for Its Calm, Matthias Rieker, Wall Street Journal. Published May 20, subscription required

May 20: Mines responsible for some Mingo County flooding

The creek and mine are visible behind Larry Brown's house. Massey is taking responsibility for the damage caused by flooding.
CHARLESTON, WV -- "Gov. Manchin called the recent floods an 'act of God.' In at least two cases, the Department of Environmental Protection determined it was actually an act of man. Two Mingo County surface mines—in Rawl and Thacker—will face penalties for the damage their operations caused to homeowners. On the bank of the creek behind Rev. Larry Brown’s house, it looks like a construction site. Machines push around mud and dirt and slate, left over from last week’s flood, but the machines are all operated by miners. The DEP determined that Rawl Sales and Processing, the mine right behind Brown’s house, was responsible for the damage," Erica Peterson, West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

May 18: Obama's EPA clears 42 of 48 new mountaintop removal mining permits

CHARLESTON, WV -- "The Obama administration has cleared more than three-dozen new mountaintop removal permits for issuance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, drawing quick criticism from environmental groups who had hoped the new president would halt the controversial practice. In a surprise announcement Friday, Rep. Nick J. Rahall said 42 of the 48 permits already examined by the U.S. Environmental Protection had been approved by EPA for issuance by the corps. 'It is unfortunate that, when EPA once again began reviewing proposed coal mining permits earlier this year, alarmists claimed that a moratorium on permit issuance was being proposed,' Rahall said in a telephone news conference. 'That was not that case then, and it is not the case now,'" Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette. Published May 10.

May 13: Massey’s dark side
In Richmond, the Massey name is synonymous with good deeds and philanthropy. But to environmentalists, Massey Energy is the king of sludge

RICHMOND, VA -- "The $2.6 billion company is constantly being cited or sued for safety violations and deaths at its deep mining operations. Its strip mining destroys thousands of acres of mountaintops. Its huge and sometimes fragile sludge ponds of mining waste have put it under constant attack from grass-roots environmentalists such as the Coal River Mountain Watch in Whitesville, W.Va., and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Huntington, W.Va. 'Massey has, in my opinion, the most unconscionable coal mining operation in Appalachia,' according to Julia Bonds, co-director of the Coal River group,'" Peter Galuszka, Style Weekly.

May 13: Photo gallery:
40th annual Appalachian Festival

CINCINNATI -- "The 40th annual Appalachian Festival at Old Coney Island has been a Mother’s Day weekend tradition for decades. This year, in addition to the opportunity to learn more about Appalachian culture, enjoy bluegrass music and purchase authentic crafts, patrons voiced their opinions about mountaintop removal. 156 children left their handprints, names and a message to 'Stop blowing up our mountains' on a banner, 416 people signed messages to Dr. Gordon Gee urging his retirement from Massey Energy’s board and 621 people signed messages to U.S. EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, urging her to enact a federal ban on the practice.” Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

May 12: Kids against mountaintop removal

May 11: Floods devastate southern West Virginia

Flooding in Gilbert Creek, West Virginia, damaged hundreds of structures, including mobile homes, and closed roads. (Jeff Gentner/ Associated Press)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Hundreds of families in southern West Virginia continue digging their possessions out of the mud, after flash floods hit the region Saturday morning. Hardest hit is Mingo County, where at least 500 homes have sustained serious damage. It’s the worst flooding southern WV has seen in eight years... And [Paul] Noe points out that for Mingo County, the worst is probably yet to come. 'And each and every time it gets larger,' Noe said. 'So the next one will be bigger. The same amount of rain, these creeks just fill in. The water does not have nowhere to go. They’ve done all this mountaintop removal and timber and gas line and all of that, and everything just fills these valleys in,'" Erica Peterson, West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Published May 10.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Does mountaintop removal make flooding worse?, Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

May 8: 10,000 Ohioans tell Obama's EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Ban mountaintop removal coal mining now

Manchin and Obama
President Barack Obama with West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a mountaintop removal enthusiast.

COLUMBUS -- "The number of Ohioans writing U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stop mountaintop removal coal mining has passed the 10,000 mark. The total as of May 6 was 10,476. The messages say, 'The Administration has all the authority it needs to act now. There is no reason to wait for Congress. Coal companies have already destroyed over 500 Appalachian mountains, and they are not going to stop voluntarily. During last year’s campaign, President Barack Obama said he was against mountaintop removal. I am looking for him to make good on that statement. This atrocity must stop now. Please write me back and tell me when you will take the necessary steps to ban mountaintop removal," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

May 7: Making a 'Sacred Zone' in Appalachia
It's not enough to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. The goal is to build a new Appalachia.

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV -- "The sacrifice continues, as it continues all over central Appalachia, from Gauley Mountain to Cherry Pond Mountain, Kayford Mountain and five hundred others. The smoke of the sacrifice is sharp with the sting of blasted ammonium nitrate, diesel fuel, and silica, but to the distant agent of Mountain Removal, Appalachian peoples' sacrifice has the sweet smell of success: 'There is no god but Coal, and Mountain Removal is its Profit.' Long in the making and long in the tireless efforts of coalfield natives like Larry Gibson, Judy Bonds, and Maria Gunnoe, a light is finally shining on the dirty secret Coal has kept hidden in the deep folds of Appalachia's ancient mountains. Millions now know what is being done to their fellow Americans in the name of 'energy.' They know that Mountain Removal is a scourge not just upon Appalachia, but upon the nation and the world," Bob Kincaid, CommonDreams.org. Published May 4.

May 6: Books: 'Something's Rising'
Mountaintop removal must end

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Kentucky-born novelist Silas House and journalist Jason Howard view mountaintop removal in much the same way chattel slavery was viewed by Abraham Lincoln, who famously declared, 'If I ever get a chance to hit that thing, I'll hit it hard.' Having decided to tackle mountaintop removal, Mr. House and Mr. Howard strike at it with cool, measured fury. 'Something's rising in the mountains of Appalachia: the voices of the people,' they declare in their introduction — thus the title of their volume. In it, they interview and give voice to 12 individuals from Appalachia of varying interests and occupations, who oppose mountaintop removal," James E. Person Jr., Washington Times.

May 1: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal

Apr 30: Undoing the damage, step by step

A child's drawing of mountaintop removal coal mining.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Bush administration also rewrote a Reagan-era rule — the so-called stream buffer rule — in a way that allowed coal companies to dump wastes produced by mountaintop mining operations into the valleys and streams below. Restoring the old rule, which barred operators from depositing debris within 100 feet of a stream, will not by itself stop the practice. The rule must be rigorously enforced, which both Democratic and Republican administrations have failed to do. The government estimates that 1,600 miles of streams in Appalachia have been wiped out this way since the mid-1980s. Other loopholes in the law also need fixing. Bit by bit, however, the new administration is tightening the noose on a practice that should have been outlawed years ago," editorial, New York Times. Published April 29.

CHARLESTON, WV -- EPA vs. Corps: Mountaintop removal fight heats up, Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Apr 29: No change: Obama Department of Justice backs pro-coal court ruling

COLUMBUS -- "Folks who are hoping that President Barack Obama’s election was going to completely reverse government policies backing mountaintop removal coal mining got more evidence to the contrary today. The Obama Justice Department filed a brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opposing further consideration of a lower court ruling that would have more closely regulated mountaintop removal. “This case does not merit further review,” said the brief filed by DOJ attorneys on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers... We don’t know yet if the full 4th Circuit will rehear the case. But we do know that the DOJ brief offered precious little to indicate what the Obama administration is going to do to curb mountaintop removal," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Apr 28: U.S. Department of Interior vacates Bush-era stream buffer zone rule change
Announcement must follow with commitment to enforce the law, environmentalists say

President Obama with Secetary of Interior Ken Salazar

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Today the U.S. Department of Interior announced that it will attempt to vacate the Bush administration's buffer zone rule promulgated on December 12, 2008 under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act ('SMCRA'). This latest action by the Department of Interior is in response to a pending lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's rule. 'Unless this announcement is accompanied by a firm commitment to enforce the law as it applies to mountaintop removal and valley fills, it's meaningless,' said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice. 'Secretary Salazar's comments at the press conference lacked such a commitment; he made it sound as if this action would return the situation to the status quo before the Bush 11th hour change to the stream buffer zone rule. But the history of the stream buffer zone rule is that it hasn't been enforced. Announcements are fine but the deeds need to match the words,'" press release, Earthjustice. Published April 27.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Obama plans for mountaintop removal buffer rule unclear, Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette. Published April 27.

Apr 28: Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People

COLUMBUS -- "Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People, a four part mini series for PBS, explores the land and the people of Appalachia. Starting with the geological formation of the mountains themselves and ending with the 21st century's impact, this series also portrays mountaintop removal coal mining and its devastating impact on the land and the people. Series by Jamie Ross and Ross Spears and narrated by Sissy Spacek," Kate Russell, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 27: U.S. seeks to end Bush mountaintop coal mining rule

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The U.S. Interior Department said on Monday it will try to overturn a Bush administration rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams. Calling the rule 'bad policy,' Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he will ask the Justice Department to go to the courts to withdraw the Bush regulation and send it back to Interior to stop the policy. Salazar said the Bush-era rule allowed coal mine operators to use 'the cheapest and most convenient disposal option' for mountaintop fill. 'We must responsibly develop our coal supplies to help us achieve energy independence, but we cannot do so without appropriately assessing the impact such development might have on local communities and natural habitat and the species it supports,' Salazar said," Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters.

When asked whether the Interior's Department action would affect mountaintop removal operations, Secretary Salazar said they would not. “There will not be, in my view, an impact on existing coal mining operations or permits.”

Apr 24: Kayford Mining Site Hollow

Kayford Mountain, standing at Hell's Gate. Notice the homes in the valley. The lush mountain just behind the first group of homes is Coal River Mountain. Local communities have been fighting to put industrial wind turbines on top of the mountain. Massey Energy wants to blow up the mountain, forever devastating the landscape, water supply, and habitat, and gravely endangering the homes in the valley - Kate Russell, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 23: Mountaintop Removal witness: Carla Roth

Mountaintop Removal model

Mountaitop removal model
Photos by Rebekah Epling, Christians for the Mountains.

KAYFORD, WV -- "Larry Gibson was showing us a small scale model of the process of mountaintop removal. How they remove a layer, remove the coal , and how the fill material alters the landscape. I was appalled by the destruction. It's an evisceration of the mountain - literally taking its insides out. I got to thinking afterwards -  'What about all the priceless fossils, artifacts or who knows?' - It's just thrown to the wayside. It's just like collateral damage. It takes billions of years to form a mountain and only a couple of weeks to destroy it - forever," Carla Roth, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 21: Mountaintop Removal witness: Lauren Frederick

CINCINNATI -- "I've seen strip mining in Eastern, Kentucky. I've seen photos of mountaintop removal. I put these concepts together in my head and imagined the worst scenes possible. I decided that the reality would be at least ten times worse what I could possibly imagine as far as hopeless destruction. The photos I took don't show anything close to the reality. If someone were to fill in the Grand Canyon or level Mount Everest there would be a global outcry but this area of the world has been oppressed for so long that it's as if it doesn't exist. What makes me even angrier is the propaganda and show of force by the coal industry on the area. If you live in the area and speak out against the industry, there is a great chance you live in fear for your life, for your families life, for your ancestors... So many others are convinced that the coal industry provides for the area, they pay for college tuitions, fund school athletics and offer so many pitifully small benefits to an area that suffers the consequences of their presence. Coal is dying but is tightening their grip on what is left and it really shows," Lauren Frederick, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 20: 5,000 Ohioans press U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stop mountaintop removal coal mining now

COLUMBUS -- "The number of Ohioans writing U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stop mountaintop removal coal mining has passed the 5,000 mark. The total as of April 8 was 5,129. The messages congratulate Jackson on her appointment by President Barack Obama, and say, 'The Administration has all the authority it needs to act now. There is no reason to wait for Congress. Coal companies have already destroyed 470 Appalachian mountains, and they are not going to stop voluntarily. During last year’s campaign, President Barack Obama said he was against mountaintop removal. I am looking for him to make good on that statement. This atrocity must stop now. Please write me back and tell me when you will take the necessary steps to ban mountaintop removal,'" Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 20: Mountaintop mining activist wins global award

MORGANTOWN, WV -- "In Maria Gunnoe's 11-year war over the strip mining she says has ruined her homestead, there have been casualties: Family dogs have been poisoned and shot and her truck's fuel tank has been stuffed with sand. Yet she keeps fighting to stop mountaintop removal mining. And for confronting the coal industry in Appalachia, she is the 2009 North American winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize. Given to six people annually — one on each inhabited continent — the Goldman is the largest award of its kind with a $150,000 cash prize. The winners will be recognized Monday in San Francisco. 'I never even knew I was an environmentalist,' Gunnoe, who lives in southwestern West Virginia, said with a chuckle," Vicki Smith, Associated Press. Published April 19.
CHARLESTON, WV -- Boone County woman wins award for fighting big coal, Ken Ward Jr. West Virginia Gazette. Published April 19.

NEW YORK, NY -- Mother Gunnoe: Mountaintop removal organizer wins Goldman "Environmental Nobel" Prize, Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post. Published April 19.

Apr 10: EPA objects to more mining permits

CHARLESTON, WV -- "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials have lodged objections to three more mountaintop-removal mining permits, but the federal Army Corps of Engineers is - at least for now - sticking to some Bush administration positions on the issue. At the same time, a federal appeals court this week gave Obama environmental advisers two more weeks to consider their position in one of several high-profile mountaintop-removal cases that are pending. Earlier this week, EPA officials released the letters that object to corps' permits for three mines, including two in West Virginia, which together would bury about eight miles of streams. EPA officials say the mining proposals, as currently configured, would violate the Clean Water Act by burying streams and impairing downstream water quality," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Apr 9: The struggle against Mountaintop Removal: Leading activist Mike Roselle continues fight against destructive coal mining

JOHNSON CITY, TN -- "So this is not a jobs issue at all. This is an issue about an out-of-state company coming into West Virginia and extracting the coal, with the most profits, with the least amount of expenses, and then getting out of there. And it’s a cut-and-run operation. So, the forests are removed, the streams are buried. They’re just—plant these mountaintops, which is just basically gravel with a little bit of grass seed, and take a picture when it greens up, and then they leave. So it is really not about coal mining. This is about a company that has been exempt from the law. It’s about a state where federal laws don’t apply. And it’s about the Environmental Protection Agency, which has looked the other way because of the powerful politicians on the sides of the coal companies," Mike Roselle interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!.

Apr 3: Court to Obama: Show your cards on mountaintop removal

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Obama administration officials better figure out pretty soon what their game plan is for dealing with mountaintop removal coal mining … because a federal appeals court today gave them a deadline. By April 14, Obama’s lawyers from the Department of Justice must respond to a motion for a rehearing of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision overturning a mountaintop removal ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers," Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Apr 2: Obama EPA got early start on mountaintop removal

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Questions and controversy continue to swirl around the Obama administration’s plans for dealing with the mountaintop removal issue. But it now appears that the Obama EPA got a much earlier start than we thought in raising much stronger objections to mountaintop removal permits than the Bush administration’s regulators ever did. In fact, the effort to more closely examine — and to object to and perhaps block — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for valley fills appears to have started the same day that President Barack Obama took the oath of office," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Apr 1: The high cost of stripping

CLEVELAND -- "[OSU President Gordon] Gee has long held a seat on the board of Massey Energy Inc., a company that compensated him nearly $193,000 in 2007 alone, according to the Columbus Dispatch. And what’s the big deal about that? Massey has drawn some of the loudest criticism from Rust Belt environmentalists opposed to its practice of mountaintop removal for coal extraction, particularly in West Virginia... Get a look for yourself at one of the area’s latest removals on a trip south to Kayford Mountain in West Virginia with OCA. Liz Ilg, Cleveland’s Ohio Citizen Action program director, says anyone interested in tagging along with staffers for an April 11 inspection of the site can call 216.861.5200 for details. The drive will not include a trip past Gee’s pricey estate to throw eggs. As of press time, Gee hadn’t relinquished the seat. 'We’re working on it,' said Kate Russell of the Columbus chapter of OCA," Dan Harkins, Cleveland Scene.

Mar 27: Senators Cardin, Alexander introduce bill to end the dumping of mining waste into streams

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Appalachia Restoration Act would amend the Clean Water Act to prevent the dumping of what is known as 'excess spoil' from mountaintop mining into streams and rivers. Mountaintop mining is a method of coal mining in which the summit of a mountain is removed to expose the coal beneath, and the resulting millions of tons of waste rock, dirt and vegetation are dumped into nearby stream and river valleys. More than 1 million acres of Appalachia have already been affected. An estimated 1,200 miles of headwater streams have been buried under tons of mining wastes. More than 500 mountains have been impacted, and homes have been ruined and drinking water supplies contaminated," press release, U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Lamar Alexander.

Mar 26: Mountaintop Removal blow-back

poverty map
This map, produced by Appalachian Voices, shows the dramatic correlation between mountaintop removal and poverty rates in Central Appalachia.

TODD, NC -- "But people in Appalachia have long known that it's more than just 'coal mining' that's the problem and that mountaintop removal specifically destroys far more jobs than it creates. If mountaintop removal created prosperity it should have done so decades ago. Instead, the counties where mountaintop removal occurs are among the poorest in the nation, with high unemployment rates and rapidly dwindling populations. The stark reality is that few industries want to follow mountaintop removal. After all, what entrepreneur wants to open a new business in a community where massive blasts are cracking the foundations of people's homes, where hundred-year floods are an annual affair, and where the tap water looks like tomato soup and smells like rotten eggs?," Matt Wasson, Huffington Post.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Hope in the Mountains, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Washington Post. Published March 25.

CHARLESTON, WV -- EPA mountaintop removal letters: A study in contrast, Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.

Mar 25: Obama chides Republicans
President says party needs to offer ideas

LOUISVILLE, KY -- "Obama said his administration is reviewing decisions by the Bush administration that eased mine-waste rules governing mountaintop removal. 'This is one of those things where I want science to help lead us,' Obama said. 'I will tell you that there's some pretty country up there that's been torn up pretty good. I will also tell you that the environmental consequences of the runoff from some of these mountains can just be horrendous... Not taking that into account because of short-term economic concerns, I think, is a mistake. I think we have to balance economic growth with good stewardship of the land God gave us,'" James Carroll, Louisville Courier-Journal.

CHARLESTON, WV -- EPA on mountaintop removal: What’s it all mean?, Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Mar 24: EPA puts mountaintop mining projects on hold
Move comes after appeals court ruling that went against mine critics

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Dozens of mountaintop coal-mining permits are being put on hold until the projects’ impacts on streams and wetlands can be reviewed, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday. Announced by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the move targets a controversial practice by coal mining companies that blasts away whole peaks and sends mining waste into streams and wetlands. It does not apply to existing mines, but to requests for new permits, a number estimated to be as high as 250," MSNBC.
Mar 24: Obama officials in 'transition' on mountaintop removal rules

HUNTINGTON, WV -- "Obama administration officials are reviewing possible changes in how mountaintop removal coal mining will be regulated, a government lawyer told a federal judge Monday morning. But administration officials are not ready to release more detailed information about their review of the issue or what new policies they are considering. 'We are in a state of transition,' said Cynthia Morris, a Department of Justice lawyer representing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Morris added, though, that she had 'nothing significant to report' yet about what was being considered," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Mar 20: Obama mountaintop removal decision coming ‘very soon’

WASHINGTON, DC -- "President Barack Obama’s top aides will be making a decision “very soon” about what they will do about mountaintop removal, according to congressional testimony today from Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley told lawmakers her staff have been meeting with EPA, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Office of Surface Mining, discussing the issue, reviewing the February decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and examining a flood of pending permits at the corps office in Huntington. 'We’re trying to get a handle on what’s out there and what we may be able to do about it,' Sutley told the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.

Mar 19: How much of a pay freeze is Gordon Gee really taking?

COLUMBUS -- "Gee will still receive his base salary of $802,125, deferred compensation of $225,000, and the $551,994 boost in his retirement package. He was not renominated for the board of directors for Gaylord Entertainment Company, but continues to serve Massey Energy, Hasbro, and Dollar General. His 2009 compensation for these board seats has not yet been made public. Even if he is receiving no more from these companies than he did in 2007, they would be adding another $460,447 to his income, an amount greater than the foregone bonuses," Kate Russell, Ohio Citizen Action. MORE ON MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL AND GORDON GEE

Mar 19: 2,500 Ohioans press U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stop mountaintop removal coal mining now

COLUMBUS -- "The number of Ohioans writing U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stop mountaintop removal coal mining has passed the 2,500 mark. The total as of today is 2,556. The messages congratulate Jackson on her appointment by President Barack Obama, and say, 'The Administration has all the authority it needs to act now. There is no reason to wait for Congress. Coal companies have already destroyed 470 Appalachian mountains, and they are not going to stop voluntarily. During last year’s campaign, President Barack Obama said he was against mountaintop removal. I am looking for him to make good on that statement. This atrocity must stop now. Please write me back and tell me when you will take the necessary steps to ban mountaintop removal,'" Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Mar 18: What’s Obama gonna do about mountaintop removal?

CHARLESTON, WV -- "That’s my question of the day — of the week, of the month, really. There’s lots of information floating around about what President Obama plans to do about climate change. But the new president and his aides have remained pretty low key when it comes to mountaintop removal. We know Obama said during the campaign that he opposed mountaintop removal. But we don’t know what he’s going to do - if anything - to back up that opposition. Yesterday and today, some environmental group representatives and coalfield residents were in Washington, D.C., meeting with a few U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staffers and with Obama officials about the issue," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Obama pressed for mountaintop removal ban, Ken Ward Jr. Charleston Gazette.

Mar 17: Massey wins round in Coal River Mountain fight

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Massey Energy has scored another victory in the battle over whether Coal River Mountain should be blown up as part of a mountaintop removal operation, or turned into a wind energy facility. The state Surface Mine Board has issued a ruling in favor of the company and the state Department of Environmental Protection on a key permit revision for Massey subsidiary Marfork Coal Co.’s Bee Tree Surface Mine... Lawyer Joe Lovett of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment said his clients are considering an appeal of the board’s ruling. 'We’re disappointed with the board, and I think it’s not taking its responsibility to protect communities and carefully review this permits seriously,' Lovett told me this afternoon," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- State Surface Mine Board upholds Massey blasting permits, State Journal.

Mar 16: Appalachia’s agony

NEW YORK, NY -- "The longstanding disgrace of mountaintop mining is now squarely in President Obama’s hands. A recent court decision has given the green light to as many as 90 mountaintop mining projects in Appalachia’s coal-rich hills, which in turn could destroy more than 200 miles of valleys and streams on top of the 1,200 miles that have already been obliterated. The right course for the administration is clear: stop the projects until the underlying regulations are revised so as to end the practice altogether," editorial, New York Times.

Mar 12: Oprah: Mountaintop Removal's worst nightmare

BERKELEY, CA -- "You can absolutely help raise visibility of this issue. Diane Sawyer's piece on the children in hollows aired to much national conversation recently. I phoned her producer about a MTRCM piece. Contact ABC and let them know you want to see her do segment with me about it! Also, there is a possibility Oprah is interested in a piece. I have also spoken with Anderson Cooper about it; if the public wants stories on it, they are more incentivized to do them," Huffington Post.

Mar 12: Gaylord reaches deal with shareholders

NASHVILLE, TN -- "Gaylord Entertainment Co. has reached agreements with its two largest shareholders with a slate of nominees for Gaylord’s board that would add two new spots to the board. ... Gaylord will increase the size of its board from nine to 11 directors. The nominees include seven current directors as well as TRT nominees Robert Rowling, TRT's owner, and David Johnson and Gamco nominees Robert Prather Jr. and Glenn Angiolillo. The current directors who will be up for reelection are Gaylord CEO Colin Reed, Michael Bender, E.K. Gaylord II, Ralph Horn, Ellen Levine, Michael Rose and Michael Roth. Gordon Gee, former chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and Brad Martin, chairman of RBM Venture Co., are the two current directors that did not make the list of nominees, Nashville Business Journal. Published March 9.

Gordon Gee, current Ohio State University president, received $105,038 in compensation from Gaylord in 2007. He received a combined compensation of $565,485 in 2007 from Gaylord, Hasbro Inc ($158,746), Limited Brands ($108,746), and Massey Energy Corporation ($192,955).

Mar 10: As W.Va. coal companies expand, graves go missing

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition organizer Robin Blakeman tends to graves at her family cemetery, the Harless-Bradshaw Cemetary on Brier Branch near Ashford, W.Va. The Harless-Bradshaw Cemetery had been used by her family and the nearby community since the mid-1800s. (AP Photo/Bob Bird)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Walter Young can't find his great-grandmother's grave. The coal company that had it moved doesn't know where the remains ended up... The land around and under the cemetery passed from one coal company to another as mines grew up around it. Now, no one is sure where Young's great-grandmother was ultimately laid to rest. The loss is a problem that resonates across West Virginia as small family cemeteries and unmarked graves get in the way of mining, timbering and development interests. Advocates are asking state lawmakers this year to enact regulations that would require better tracking of the graves and protect families who believed that their loved ones wouldn't be disturbed," Brian Farkas, Associated Press. Published March 9.

Mar 4: Leveling Appalachia
Mountaintop removal mining hits new heights in environmental destruction

CINCINNATI -- "'With mountain removal, which is a form of strip mining, the top is removed in a way that it can never be put back on,' says Paul Ryder, Organizing Director for Ohio Citizen Action. 'What they do is they toss it into the valley — first the vegetation and trees, then the top soil, then the interior of the mountain. So the topsoil is at the bottom of this huge pile. There is no way to reclaim it. It so happens that all the areas where mountaintop removal is being practiced are part of the Ohio River watershed. All of the streams affected end up in the Ohio River,'" Margo Pierce, CityBeat.

Mar 4: Clean Water Protection Act introduced in 111th Congress

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The bill will protect communities and water quality by outlawing the dumping of mining waste into streams. 'The Clean Water Protection Act is the first broad Congressional initiative aimed at reversing the Bush Administration’s eight-year effort to savage our national waterways and the popular laws that protect them,' Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said, explaining his support of the bill. The Clean Water Protection Act was introduced to address a 2002 Bush administration executive rule change that altered the long-standing definition of 'fill material' in the Clean Water Act. The new definition permits mining waste to be used to fill streams, allowing companies to blast apart mountains for coal and place the resulting millions of tons of rubble, or 'excess spoil' into nearby valleys, creating 'valley fills' that cover hundreds of acres of land and bury hundreds of miles of streams," Alliance for Appalachia.

Mar 2: West Virginians to participate in Capitol Climate Action in D.C. Monday

HUNTINGTON, WV -- "On Monday, March 2, West Virginians, including at least one from Putnam County, will be well-represented at what has been projected to be the 'largest civil disobedience for the climate in history.' Organizers of the Capitol Climate Action expect at least a thousand people to be arrested as they surround the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, DC, which is visible from the Capitol where Congress meets... The plant is fueled in part by coal mined by the controversial mountaintop removal method, which gives Tyree and other West Virginians extra impetus to get involved Carol Ross of Gilmer County said, 'Some ask why we’re willing to risk arrest. We love West Virginia and seeing it blown up is causing us great grief. If our being arrested could stop this outrage, we would do it every day,'" Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Published March 1.

Mar 2: Scotus to eye W.Va. case focusing on campaign cash

CHARLESTON, WV -- "A coal executive's bankrolling of a West Virginia justice's election comes under intense scrutiny this week as the nation's highest court considers when judges should step aside from cases involving campaign supporters. Don Blankenship spent at least $3 million to help Republican Brent Benjamin, a little-known lawyer from Charleston, defeat the incumbent Democrat in 2004. Benjamin later helped form the 3-2 majority that overturned a judgment, now valued at $82.7 million with interest, against Blankenship's Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co... The head of the nation's fourth-largest coal producer by revenue, Blankenship has become an outspoken advocate of mountaintop removal mining, which blasts away summits to expose coal seams," Lawrence Messina, Associated Press. Published March 1.

Feb 27: Students lobbying in D.C.

CLEVELAND -- "As many as 10,000 young people - including some 400 from Ohio, according to organizers - will be in Washington on Monday to state their case in 'Power Shift 09' . . . The thousands will include Katey Lauer, a senior at Hiram College. Lauer said her work with a group that fights against coal mining companies blowing the tops off mountains is an example of how the environmental issues connect us all," Michael Scott, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Feb 20: Ashley Judd speaks out against mountain top removal coal mining

Feb 18: Seeking protection for coalfield cemeteries

Larry Gibson stands on Kayford Mountain, where a century-old family cemetery was drilled, according to a witness. (Lawrence Pierce)

DELBARTON, WV -- "Cemeteries are yet another casualty of 'cheap' coal - another heartbreaking loss that accompanies mountaintop removal and the overture of global warming. A committee of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition members and members of the Sierra Club are working toward the passage of a state law that will protect family cemeteries in the coalfields. Why are we working on the issue of family cemeteries? Because as a consequence of the mad rush to blow up mountains and dump them into valleys to get the coal out as quickly as possible, family cemeteries all over the coalfields are disappearing - and many more are now being threatened," Dianne Bady, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition co-director, West Virginia Gazette.

Feb 18: New court decision spells the disaster for Appalachia and the region's drinking water
The new ruling could mean 90 new mountaintop removal coal mining sites that can dump toxic pollution into our drinking water

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A panel of federal judges ruled in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a controversial mountaintop removal mining case. This could open the floodgates on up to 90 new mountaintop removal coal mining operations that had been stalled until now in the permitting process, and which threaten to destroy huge swaths of the Appalachian Mountains. The ruling will permit mining companies to conduct devastating mountaintop removal coal mining operations without acting to minimize stream destruction or conducting adequate environmental reviews... Please join us in contacting the Obama Administration at this critical time, to make sure this decision does not unleash a wave of devastation on Appalachia’s communities," Bruce Niles, Sierra Club.

RICHMOND, VA -- Appeals court reverses limits on mountaintop removal coal mining, Environmental News Service.

FRANKFORT, IN -- Hundreds, including Ashley Judd, rally against mountaintop removal, Ronnie Ellis, Jefferson News & Tribune.

Feb 11: New coal resource

CHARLESTON, WV -- "This Charleston Gazette blog attempts to build on the newspaper’s longtime coverage of all things coal — with a focus on mountaintop removal, coal-mine safety and climate change. Staff writer Ken Ward Jr., a native of Piedmont in Mineral County, W.Va., has covered the Appalachian coal industry for nearly 20 years.Ward is a three-time winner of the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting. He has also received the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, an Investigative Reporters and Editors medal, and an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship," Coal Tattoo.

Feb 4: 14 cited in protests at Massey operations

mountaintop removal protestors
Activists attached windmill blades to mining equipment as part of their campaign to promote construction of a wind-energy facility instead of a strip mine.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Fourteen people were cited by State Police on Tuesday in two separate protests against Massey Energy's mountaintop removal operations in Southern West Virginia. Early Tuesday morning, five activists chained themselves to heavy equipment at Massey's Bee Tree Surface Mine near Pettus, to protest the company's plan to blast apart portions of Coal River Mountain. Later in the day, eight mountaintop removal opponents were cited after they delivered a letter to Massey Energy President Don Blankenship to a company guard shack, then refused to leave company property, police said," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

LANSING, MI -- Governor says no to coal, pushes green power, She backs solar, wind projects to jump-start Mich. economy, Mark Hornbeck, Charlie Cain, Gary Heinlein, The Detroit News.

Feb 3: Anti-coal activists chain themselves to equipment at Massey operation

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Five activists chained themselves to heavy equipment at a Massey Energy strip-mining operation in Raleigh County this morning to protest the company's plans to blast apart Coal River Mountain. The action by the groups Climate Ground Zero and Appalachian Mountain Justice is part of a campaign to block Massey's mountaintop removal plans and put a windmill operation at the site instead. The five activists hung one banner that said, 'Windmills, Not Toxic Spills' and attached windmill blades to an excavator at the Massey operation near Pettus," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

PETTUS, WV -- Five arrested during mine protest in Boone County, More action planned, protesters say, Gretchen Mae Stone, WVNS.

PETTUS, WV -- New coal sludge danger? Citizens warn of danger of blasting near Sludge Dam 10, PRNewswire.

Feb 2: Longwall coal mine companies push to “downgrade” stream pollution controls

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Much has been made about the Bush administration’s 11th hour repeal of a key rule meant to keep coal-slurry waste out of Appalachian streams — a repeal that went into effect this month. But check out what’s happening in northern Appalachia — the capital of longwall coal mining, a little-known but devastating extraction method that collapses the ground beneath homes. The mining industry is quietly pushing to downgrade 'high quality' streams in a move that’s giving environmentalists there nightmares," Kristen Lombardi, Paper Trail blog, Center for Public Integrity. Published January 29.

Jan 29: Blowing away King Coal
Can a scrawny young wind-power activist topple the biggest, dirtiest industry in West Virginia?
Rory McIlmoil
Rory McIlmoil, sitting in front of a coal sludge pond.
ROCK CREEK, WV -- "As McIlmoil envisioned it, the wind potential on Coal River Mountain blew away the short-lived economic benefits of the proposed mountaintop removal sites. In fact, coal mining provides only 11 to 13 percent of the economic activity in West Virginia. And the state can use all the economy activity it can get. Forbes recently ranked West Virginia 50th among the best states to do business. On less than 100 cleared acres across the same mountain range, McIlmoil concluded that the wind farm would create 200 local jobs during construction, and 50 permanent jobs during the life of the wind farm. In the process, it would provide 440MW of electricity, or enough energy for 150,000 homes, and allow for sustainable forestry and mountain tourism projects. The plan also called for a limited amount of underground coal mining," Jeff Biggers, Salon.com.

Jan 19: Dumping mountaintops in coal country streams illegal, lawsuit claims

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A national parks advocacy group and a southeast regional law firm went to court Friday to challenge a new Bush administration rule they claim limits the government's ability to protect Appalachian streams from mountaintop removal and other destructive forms of surface mining for coal. The complaint filed by the National Parks Conservation Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center seeks to block the changes in the Stream Buffer Zone Rule made in December that they say remove the original rule's water quality protections and legalize the destruction of streams in the region's coalfields," Spencer Hunt, Environmental News Service. Published January 18.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Bush administration altered Appalachian landscape, Elizabeth Shogren, NPR. Published January 17.

Jan 16: Obama in Ohio Friday: Why not fly over TVA and Appalachia en route?

BEDFORD HTS -- "President-elect Barack Obama could make an extraordinary statement this Friday, when he visits a factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio, that produces parts for wind turbines, as part of his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan: En route, he could easily fly over the Tennessee Valley Authority's disaster zone, and a coal mining community in West Virginia. Seventy-five years and an emerging depression and energy crisis after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the TVA into existence as an innovative solution to new energy demands, Obama's fly over of the TVA's series of coal ash and sediment pond breakages -- the worst environmental disaster in American history -- would be a symbolic wake up call for an immediate shift in our energy and environmental policies," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

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